Farmers in Rewari break barricades; police use tear gas to stop them

A section of farmers camping on the Delhi-Jaipur highway at Sangwari Chowk, in Rewari city, tried to move towards Delhi on Sunday evening, said the police.

The Rewari Police said the protestors at Sangwari Chowk broke the barricades and tried to move towards Gurugram and Delhi, following which they had to release tear-gas shells and water cannons to stop them.

Farmers, on the other hand, alleged that the tear gas shells used by the police were expired and that the gas cylinders kept in their tractor-trolleys could have exploded as a result of the shells. In the ruckus that took place between the police and the protestors on Sunday, one farmer was reportedly injured.

Earlier, last Thursday, another section of farmers had broken the barricades at Shahjahanpur and entered Rewari on the Delhi-Jaipur highway. Over 2,000 farmers from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana and members of trade unions are currently protesting at Bawal in Rewari. The farmers at Bawal have asked their counterparts in Shahjhanapur to join them so that they could proceed towards Delhi on Monday.

Haryana Police said that more than 20 tractors and a section of farmers crossed the border but later stopped as their counterparts could not manage to break the barricades and there was no other facility to camp for the night.

Rajesh Kumar, deputy superintendent of Bawal, said that farmers at Sangwari Chowk broke the police barricades and tried to move towards Delhi. “The police had to use tear gas and water cannons to stop the protesters. They shouted slogans and forcefully tried to break the barricades. As such, we had to take necessary steps to stop them,” he said.

Last month, over a thousand farmers from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana reached Jaisinghpur Khera and joined the agitation. The protesting farmers had earlier announced that they would start moving towards Delhi on Monday, signalling their intent to further escalate the ongoing agitation.

Satnarayan Nehra, president of Nehra Khap of Haryana, said that due to the rains, there were fewer protestors at the spot. They were expecting that more than 6,000 farmers on Sunday but hardly 1,000 turned up. “Our plan to move to Delhi failed but we will try to move ahead on late Sunday night as farmers from nearby areas are gathering at the Kheda border. We are trying to figure out how to cross the stretch,” he said.

Rashid Ahmed, a protestor from Nuh, said, “Rajasthan Police allowed us to cross but Haryana Police refused. Many farmers have been camping since December 12 and are not doing well. However, they are not willing to return home either.” The community leaders have requested the police to let them cross the stretch peacefully and have tried to pacify the protestors.

Farmers complain of lack of facilities

Meanwhile, the farmers, who have been protesting at the border since December 12, have alleged that there is no running water and no toilets for them at the protest sites in Haryana and Rajasthan. They alleged that they are being compelled to use either agricultural fields or the nearest fuel stations to relieve themselves. While bathing and drinking water have not been a major concerns for most of them, using toilets has been an issue for them. Water trolleys have been arranged by the villagers but there are no arrangements for toilets.

Krishan Kumar, one of the protestors, said that they are travelling to the nearby petrol pumps to use toilets. “We have been cleaning the areas on our own and making sure of water and other facilities. The authorities should provide the basic facilities for us,” he said.

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